Inflation may be cooling, but those stubborn grocery prices are still much higher than they were before the pandemic. While the average price of grocery spending jumped about 12% in 2022, most meal kit services jumped between 5% and 8%, making them a better deal than ever. Not to mention the convenience of having all the ingredients shipped and ready to make a healthy meal.
All of this made me wonder if a budget meal kit is even more expensive than buying the groceries needed to make the same meal. And if so, how much more expensive is a cheap service like e.gor than cooking from scratch?
Don’t worry, I did the math.
The big draw foris a convenience as they measure and sometimes even prepare all the ingredients and send them to your door ready to make a satisfying dinner. We used to think of meal kits as an expensive splurge for going out, but since then the price of most has come down and many budget services have entered the field.
To find the price difference, I calculated the cost of two meals frommy favorite service for cheap meal kits, vs needed to make the same two recipes. The difference was about a dollar, and probably even closer if you factor in the fuel needed to get to the store.
Here’s how I got those numbers and what I learnedprice and value in 2023
Dining set vs grocery store
EveryPlate (Meal for 2)
EveryPlate (meal for 4)
Groceries purchased from the store
Price per serving
Are meal kits more expensive than buying groceries?
If you’ve been wondering exactly how much more expensive meal kits are compared to doing all the grocery shopping yourself, I’ve done the math. Although some meal kit services are still comfortably in the luxury category –and to name two — about $5 or $6 per serving.
After calculating the cost difference between grocery shopping and ordering meal kits for two recipes offered by my favorite budget meal kit service,, only a measly dollar separates the two approaches to dinner. The perception of dining sets as an expensive splurge for date nights may be more myth than reality.
How I did the math
To calculate the cost of meal kits versus buying groceries, I took two EveryPlate recipes and calculated the cost of the ingredients. To keep things consistent, I used the cheapest results that were filleda popular online grocery delivery service here in the Northeast.
Since spices are usually sold in 1 or 2 ounce bottles, I divided the price by 20 since each spice bottle contains approximately 20 servings. The same goes for ingredients like sour cream and soy sauce, which are also sold in larger quantities. I’ve divided the total costs roughly by the amount you need to fill each recipe.
How much does a meal kit service like EveryPlate cost?
EveryPlate is one of the cheapest meal kit services, withat about $5 per serving. For a meal plan for two people and three meals a week, it’s a bit more at $5.99 per serving. I used to compare with the cost of buying your own groceries. There is also a flat rate delivery charge of $9, which I split across the three meals. When all is said and done, EveryPlate will cost you $7.48 per serving for a two-person plan. Choose a meal for four and it will cost only $6.50 per serving.
How much would the meal kits cost if you bought the individual groceries
Below is a breakdown of what twoit would cost if you buy the groceries yourself. These prices are calculated from in April 2022. I didn’t include delivery charges for a grocery service or the cost of gas to get to and from the store. It’s also worth noting that the prices of the groceries listed below are significantly lower than what I find at local markets in Brooklyn.
Braised Pork Chops with Home Fries and Carrots (Serves 2)
- Carrots (12 ounces): $1.50
- Five Yukon Gold Potatoes: $1.50
- One head of yellow onion: $0.90
- Two onions: $0.50
- Two 5-ounce pork chops: $4.93
- One packet of chicken stock concentrate: $0.60
- Hot pepper: $0.20
- Sour Cream (4 oz): $1.50
Cost per serving: $5.56
Cherry meatballs with zucchini and garlic mashed potatoes (2 servings)
- Five Yukon Gold potatoes: $1.60
- White bread (two slices): $0.50
- One zucchini: $1.50
- Ground beef (8 ounces): $4.30
- Cherry Jam (1 oz): $0.85
- Garlic powder: $0.10
- Sour Cream (4 oz): $1.50
- Soy Sauce (1 oz): $0.50
Cost per serving: $5.42
How much more is a meal kit than buying groceries?
Compared to the cost of buying all the necessary groceries at the store, EveryPlate is approx $2 more per serving. If you had to choose one of the plans with portions for four, it would be sooner $1 more. So, it’s pretty much a wash.
At the end of the day, it’s the convenience you pay a little more for. But if you choose a budget service like EveryPlate or Dinnerly, that little extra turns out to be next to nothing.
What about environmental costs, packaging and waste?
There’s no doubt that meal kit services use more plastic than buying your own groceries. However, cheaper services have found ways to keep costs down. In many cases, this means using less packaging.
EveryPlate, for example, is one of the greenest services I’ve tried. The company puts all of its produce and other ingredients into one carton, while others package each ingredient individually, creating more waste. Most of the packaging, including the cooler box and ice packs, can be recycled at the curb.
On the other hand, since meal kits usually give you exactly what you need for each meal and no more, you’re less likely to have food waste. Who hasn’t thrown away the last few ounces of a tub of sour cream or a few onions you couldn’t find a use for before they wilted?
What about other meal kit services?
EveryPlate is the cheapest meal kit service along with. The most expensive outfits — , and — costs closer to $10 or $13 per serving. The added cost is usually due to premium ingredients like grass-fed beef and organic produce. With them, you’ll find a bigger difference between the cost of the meal kit and what it would cost to prepare the meal at home. Services like , and fall somewhere in the middle with meal kits ranging around $9 and $10 per serving.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.